Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame launched a lobbying group called FWD.Us, which purports to be for immigration reform and has more than a few big names associated with it, including Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates, who joined a couple weeks after its unveiling. Among those big-name supporters was Elon Musk of Tesla and David Sacks of Yammer, both of whom have abandoned the group, according to sources who are said to be familiar with the matter.
The information comes from the folks at AllThingsD, which received a statement from Elon Musk stating: “I agreed to support Fwd.us because there is a genuine need to reform immigration. However, this should not be done at the expense of other important causes. I have spent a lot of time fighting far larger lobbying organizations in D.C. and believe that the right way to win on a cause is to argue the merits of that cause. This statement may surprise some people, but my experience is that most (not all) politicians and their staffs want to do the right thing and eventually do.”
As it turns out, the political action committee is focused on more than just immigration reform and seeing Congress “focus on policies that maximize the potential of our country’s workforce to contribute to the knowledge economy,” if its actions are of any merit. The group has come under fire for backing conservative politicians’ political commercials that focus on things like endorsing the Alaska pipeline and fighting against the Obama Administration’s healthcare reform efforts.
Not everyone believes such funding is against the purpose of the group, however.
One FWD.Us supported, Jim Breyer of Accel Partners, told the New York Times earlier this month in a statement: “Our advertising decisions are being made by a very smart team of political operatives who know that passing major reform will require some different and innovative tactics. I’m proud to support Fwd.Us as they work to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Regardless of whether the purpose of the group truly is immigration reform or whether it has multiple areas of interest, it is not hard to see why Musk would abandon it. Tesla Motors, for which he is the CEO, is a major player in the electric vehicles industry, as well as other environment and green-oriented areas. Financially backing a group that, in part, spends his contributions on supporting politicians seeking to drill oil in Alaska would be damaging on the personal level and contrary to many of his efforts. As for David Sacks, the information is purely the by-product of sources, with no statement or official word being given either way.